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Orthodox Easter Monday

Many Orthodox churches around the world observe Easter Monday, which is the day after the Orthodox Easter Sunday.
Orthodox Easter Monday

Painted eggs are an important tradition during the Easter period.

©iStockphoto.com/Bob Drapella

What do people do?

In countries such as Greece, the Orthodox Easter Monday is a much more relaxed day when people can wind down or prepare to resume their work or study schedules. For some, it is a reflection of the events that occurred during Holy Week. Easter Monday is a day to finish leftover Easter meals that were not eaten the day before. The menu may include: lamb, spanokopita (spinach pie), dolmadakia (stuffed vine leaves), and loukoumathes (honey balls).

Easter Monday is also referred to as “Bright Monday” or “New Monday” in many Orthodox churches. “Bright Monday” falls on “Bright Week”, which is a seven-day period that begins on Easter Sunday. For many Orthodox Christians, the fast and the time of mourning is over and it is a time to be joyous and happy. 

Public life

Easter Monday is observed as an official holiday in countries including: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and Ukraine. Schools, banks and public offices may be closed on this day. Some embassies are closed in these countries on Easter Monday so travelers will need to confirm with their own embassies.

There are no federal Orthodox Easter public holidays in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, Easter Monday is a time for families and friends of the Orthodox Christian faith to relax and reflect on the past week.

Background

In 325 CE the Council of Nicaea established the Easter date for churches around the world. However, in 1582 the Gregorian calendar was introduced and many western churches decided to observe the Easter period according to that calendar over the centuries. Many Orthodox churches still observe Easter in accordance with the Julian calendar, therefore they often follow a different Easter date compared with many western churches.

In the Orthodox circles, tensions exist between New Calendarists – those who use the revised Julian calendar for calculating the feasts of the ecclesiastical year – and Old Calendarists – those who continue to use the traditional Julian calendar. There have been a number of proposed Easter date reforms. In 1997 the World Council of Churches proposed a reform to solve the Easter date difference between churches that observe the Gregorian calendar and those that observe the Julian calendar. So far, this reform has not been implemented.

Symbols

One of the most common Orthodox Easter symbols is the dyed red to symbolize the blood of Christ. The egg was an important symbol in the mythologies of many early civilizations and was also connected with the springtime fertility rituals. Many Greek people rap their eggs against their friends' eggs and the owner of the last uncracked egg is considered lucky. The red eggs are usually prepared on Holy Thursday in countries such as Greece. According to tradition, the Virgin Mary dyed eggs red to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and to celebrate life.

One of the most common Christian symbols associated with Easter is the lamb. It is often depicted with a banner that bears a cross, and it is known as the Agnus Dei, meaning "Lamb of God" in Latin. The symbol’s origin relates to the Jewish Passover. In ancient times Jewish people sacrificed a lamb in the course of the festival. The early Christians associated the sacrifice of the lamb with Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross. They connected the joyous Passover festival, which celebrates the liberation of Jewish people from years of bondage in Egypt, with the liberation from death represented by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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